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Importance of the Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Present Era

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Taranjeet singh, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. Taranjeet singh

    Taranjeet singh India
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    Importance of the Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Present Era.
    EMPHASIS ON USE OF DISCRIMINATING INTELLECT (BABAEK BUDHI) IN GURBNI
    Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD
    Institute for Understanding Sikhism
    4418 Rue Martin-Plouffe, Laval, Quebec,
    Canada H7W 5L9
    E-mail: Sikhism@canada.com

    ABSTRACT

    Many theologians while discussion religion and science emphasize that science is a fact, which can be tested and duplicated, while religion is a faith, which cannot be put to such tests. They are absolutely right since faith means unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence. A critical evaluation of Nanakian Philosophy will show that Science and Nanakian Philosophy are closely intertwined with each other. And Guru Nanak emphasizes to use wisdom and discriminating intellect (Babaek Budhi) to examine every philosophy/idea/thing before accepting and putting it into practice. Therefore, to understand the Gurbani, incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS), in its real perspective, it is imperative to have the latest scientific information and a discriminating intellect.

    Moreover, it is also important to understand the methodology used by Guru Nanak to explain his philosophy. In most of the cases Guru Nanak quotes simple science and logic and sometime cites ancient mythological works and rituals, commonly accepted by the masses, and thereafter he explains his own philosophy. He also uses many allegoric expressions to make it easy for the readers to understand his philosophy. The scholars, who would like to interpret Gurbani represent Sikhism in their real perspective, have to be very diligent and need discriminating intellect to distinguish it from the ancient mythological works, and allegoric expressions, cited in Gurbani and to sift the truth from the historical information. The humanity of the Science Age demands an integrated and comprehensive representation of Gurbani and Sikhism from the Sikh scholars.
    INTRODUCTION
    Guru Nanak (1469-1539) laid the foundation of Sikhi (Sikhism) during the 15th
    century, the Period of Renaissance (between 14th century and 17th century) when the scientists were challenging some of the concepts of the Church in Europe.
    During this period Guru Nanak was busy in challenging the ancient mythology
    and rituals in which the peoples of South Asia were shackled for centuries and
    were unable to express their free will in any aspect of their lives because their lives were controlled by their religious mentors. Consequently, Guru Nanak gave a unique philosophy that is scientifically and logically very sound having universal acceptability. His philosophy is called Nanakian Philosophy [6]. It was preached and enriched by the nine succeeding Gurus to the House of Nanak (Mahla) /Nanakian School. The follower of his philosophy is known as the 'Sikh' and the philosophy is called as 'Sikhi' in Punjabi. The word 'Sikhi' (Gurmat) gave rise to the modern anglicized word 'Sikhism' for the modern world.

    I am proud to claim that it was Guru Nanak who promulgated a scientific and
    logical philosophy during the 15th century to the world to create a sense of morality to establish peace on this earth, the tiny planet [2, 4]. I see his philosophy has all the characteristics that have universal acceptability. The irony is that after five centuries if we examine the effect of Guru Nanak’s philosophy on humanity in general and on the Sikhs in particular, it will not be difficult to come to the conclusion that what the Sikhs are doing today is exactly contrary to his philosophy.
    It is so because in my opinion Sikhism has been represented by those Sikh
    theologians, historians and scholars, who failed to cleanse their minds and thought from the ancient mythology and ritualism. They are still being continuously bombarded with ancient mythology and rituals by the Biprans (Persons, who works against Nanakian Philosophy). It is happening so because of the absence of preaching of Gurbani and Sikhism in their real perspective by the so-called custodians of Sikhism after the Gurus’ era, i.e. after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708.

    HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

    After the time of Banda Bahadur majority of the Sikhs were living in the forests and during this period preaching of Gurbani and Sikhism, and control of the Sikh institutions fell into the hands of the Biprans, This situation continued to be in the same state even during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and thereafter. During the Singh Sabha Movement some attempts were made to interpret Gurbani and represent Sikhism in their real perspective by some dedicated Sikh scholars. Soon this movement was taken over by the Sikh scholars who were heavily burdened with the ancient philosophy, mythology and Bipreet (Ritualism or practices which are contrary to the Nanakian Philosophy). During this period the use of discriminating intellect (Babaek Budhi) to find the truth was discouraged and was declared as sin by the Biprans.

    DIVERSIFIED OPINION

    It was Dr Oberoi [12] who in his book pointed out that Aad Guru Granth Sahib
    (AGGS) [1] contains amorphous Bani (verses) and many scholars interpret it to their advantages. After about 8 years of publication of his book I still have to find scholarly rebuttal to his above statement. I may add here that Dr Oberoi may be right to a great extent because a brief survey of current literature indicated that no two scholars agree with each other on the interpretation of same Bani and same topic on Sikhism. For examples:

    1. A conference was held in February 2001 on “Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the
    Interfaith Scripture” at the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Some active
    participant and a well-known Sikh scholar raised objection that The Holy
    Granth of the Sikhs is not an Interfaith Scripture. About two years have passed I have yet to see any article against the above concept either by that scholar who raised the objection or by other, although it is very crucial to resolve this issue. It has to be resolved soon whether the Holy Granth of the Sikhs is an Interfaith Scriptures or not. Any delay in resolving this issue will be strengthening the Biprans, who are determined to undermine the originality and uniqueness of the Nanakian Philosophy by misinterpreting this term,Interfaith Scripture. (Interfaith: Between or involving persons adhering to different religions.)

    2. Grewal [7] has also shown that scholars, whether Sikh or Non-Sikh, Eastern or Western, do not agree with each other on many aspects of Sikhism. The Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh and the Center of Sikh Studies, Santa Ana, California tried to clarify some of the misrepresentations in Sikhism through various publications. Nevertheless, Grewal [7] still reported that in their publications some of the authors were quite strident in their criticism. Some of them failed to make any distinction between 'criticizing views and imputing motives', and others attacked the personal integrity of those with whom they disagreed or whom they did not understand.
    3. Unfortunately misinterpretation of Gurbani and misrepresentation of Sikhism
    are still going on, rather on large scale, with calculated efforts to undermine the originality and uniqueness of Nanakian Philosophy and Sikhism. The irony is that the so-called custodians of Gurbani and Sikhism are doing it. For example:
    < to : Recently it has come to my notice that the Dharam Parchar
    Committee of Shrimoni Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar has
    published the first issue (July 2002) of Gurmat Gian in Hindi for Hindi-speaking
    people. The title page represent IK OM with an extra extending line on OM as is found in the Open Oora of <, commonly called as EK OANKAAR.
    I could never imagine that the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC will go to such an extent to undermine the originality of Nanakian Philosophy since they have accepted the title of Gurmat Gian showing misconstruing of <, which was especially designed by Guru Nanak as a unique and original logo of its own kind not found anywhere else to represent the Transcendent (Abstruse/Abstract) Entity (commonly called God). It represents the true attribute of God in Guru Nanak’s concept since the concept of God in Nanakian Philosophy is entirely different than that of others [5]. The Dharam Parchar Committee has done a greatest damage to the originality and uniqueness of logo, <, by misconstruing it into IK OM KAAR, , based on philosophy of Vedas and Upanishads.
    This problem started when the Sikh scholars under the strong influence of ancient philosophy and mythology started to interpret the above logo into first as ‘Ik Oankaar’ then as ‘Ik Oamkaar’ and finally as ‘Ik Omkaar’ and explained it as a combination of “1 + Om + Kaar”.
    I have written a lot on this issue to prove that “One + Open Oora + Extended end” is not an abbreviation of either of “Ik Oankaar” or “Ik OamKaar” or “IK
    Omkaar”. It is an original and unique logo coined by Guru Nanak to represent the Transcendent (Abstruse/Abstract) Entity (commonly called God). And it should be pronounced as “Ik Oh Beant” because Ik is One in Punjabi. Open Oora is Oh in Punjabi and in English, and Extended end represents Infinity in English, and Beant in Punjabi. The readers are suggested to look into the reference # 3 for more information on this issue.
    4. More recently I came across the following statement, reported by Anupam
    Gupta [8] in his ‘Point of Law’ on ‘Sikh Gurdwara Act and the Legacy of Nonviolence’:
    “Sikhism, wrote one of its foremost scholars, Prof W H McLeod, in
    1988, is yet to develop a theology of its own in the proper, technical sense of the term. Some major studies devoted to the analysis and presentation of the Sikh tradition have been produced, which have exercised a determinative influence on the intellectual understanding of Sikhism ever since. Notable examples are the various Adi Granth commentaries, and the works of Kahn Singh Nabha, Prof Teja Singh and Bhai Vir Singh. But a “theology of Sikhism,” said McLeod, “integrated and comprehensive, has yet to be written.”

    McLeod is right to a great extent in issuing a statement, “Theology of Sikhism, integrated and comprehensive, has yet to be written”. Thanks to Anupam Gupta for reminding the Sikh scholars about McLeod’s statement who failed to respond to his statement for the last 14 years since no integrated and comprehensive theology of Sikhism has been represented either by any individual Sikh scholar or by the so-called custodians of Sikhism till today. There is no doubt that a lot of literature has appeared during this period but with diversified opinions. Most of this work is literal translations of the Holy Granth as well as that of old writings without any critical analyses to sift the truth from the diversified views and information contradictory to the Gurbani. Until and unless an integrated and comprehensive philosophy of Sikhism appears the Biprans will continue to undermine Sikhism by referring to the unauthentic, unscientific, and illogical old writings and the Sikhs will continue to defend Sikhism as usual.

    In fact, there is a great demand for authentic, integrated and comprehensive
    philosophy of Sikhism by the humanity of the world of the Science Age since
    everybody is looking for a scientific and logical philosophy on theology.

    Causes of Diversified Opinions

    Disagreement on certain points of Sikhism arises because many scholars have
    represented Sikhism which is based on about 80% of the information available in publications that appeared during the 18th and 19th centuries but only 20% of it may be based on the Nanakian Philosophy incorporated in the AGGS. When the information given in such publications is critically examined it becomes clear that every writer has tried to represent Sikhism according to his/her own level of intelligence, under the influence of writers’ belief in mythology, under the pressure of the governing power, or intentionally to achieve certain motives. Even today every scholar has his own worldview of Sikhism and is trying to convince others to follow his view. Recently the Institute for Understanding Sikhism invited opinion on Internet from various Sikh scholars to define a Sikh. There was so diversified opinion of every scholar that no one was agreeing on one definition of a Sikh except a few who could not dare to coin a new definition but were ready to accept the old definition given in the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, which needed to be
    modified.
    The major cause of diversified opinions among the Sikh scholars is that they are depending too much on unauthentic, unscientific, and illogical information given in the old Sikh literature.
    I would like to cite an example to prove that some religious scholars are so deadly against the use of science and logic that they will go to such an extent even to misconstrue the statement of a Nobel Laureate, Einstein [13] to justify the superiority of religion:

    The following statement of Einstein: “Science without religion is lame. Religion
    without science is blind.” has been misconstrued as follows: “Science without
    religion is blind. Religion without science is lame.” to show the superiority of
    religion over science by ignoring the fact that it is a greatest sin to misconstrue somebody’s statement to justify own belief.

    Many Christian theologians have quoted the above-misconstrued statement of Einstein and now it has also been quoted by an Eastern scholar, Javasudarshana [9], for that very reason to show the supremacy of religion over science. The same misconstrued statement has been quoted by some Sikh scholars {Manjeet Singh [16] and Nirmal Singh Kalsi [10]} to support superiority of religion over science.
    In my opinion the scholars of Gurbani do not have to misconstrue any statement of anybody or any information (data) to show the superiority of Nanakian Philosophy because it is already scientific and logical.

    The above example clearly indicates that if the scholars of today can misconstrue the well-established statement of a well-known Nobel Laureate, Einstein, then one can easily imagine how much misconstrued information could be found in the old literature of Sikhism written during the 18th and 19th centuries? Nevertheless, the Sikhs are very fortunate that they can find the Nanakian Philosophy in its original form since Guru Arjan has incorporated it in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib in 1604.
    Nothing has been allowed to be changed since then except the Bani of Guru Teg Bahadhur was added into it by Guru Gobind Singh around 1705. Thus, the Aad Guru Granth Sahib is the most authenticated, original, and primary source of the Nanakian Philosophy to construct Sikhism. Therefore, it is imperative for each scholar to be diligent in quoting information from ancient writings and secondary sources to construct Sikhism. And the authenticity of information from such sources should be tested with Nanakian Philosophy in the AGGS, science and logic - the touchstones of truth, before using it to construct Sikhism.

    BACK TO BASICS
    Under the circumstances explained above, it becomes imperative for scrupulous Sikh scholars to be vigilant about misinterpretation of Gurbani and
    misrepresentation of Sikhism and to defend the originality and uniqueness of
    Gurbani and Sikhism by publishing scientific and logical rebuttals on anti-Sikh
    writings. On the other hand permanent solution to this problem can be achieved by systematic and critical analyses of Sikh literature, especially published during 18th and 19th centuries, and interpretation of Gurbani and representation of Sikhism in their real perspective. It can only be possible through sincere and critical discussion supported with pertinent and authentic references that can stand the test of Gurbani, science and logic, the touchstones of truth. In this respect King has rightly said that [11]: “The fire of critical method can burn away whatever is gross in a religious tradition, and enable the believers to retrieve the pure metal."

    The best approach to represent integrated and comprehensive theology of Sikhism is that the Sikh scholars have to come back to basics of Gurbani enshrined in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib and use of discriminating intellect (Babaek Budhi), so strongly emphasized in the Nanakian Philosophy, and their interpretation in their real perspective. Beside this the Sikh scholars have to come out of fear of the draconian sword of excommunication and harassment, which has always been hanging on their heads in the past. They should be scholarly bold enough to expose the wrong concepts, wrong rituals, and wrong practices that have crept into Sikhism during the last three centuries [14].

    In this article I would like to draw the attention of all the Sikh scholars and the socalled custodians of Sikhism to evaluate every information given in the old literature by the use of latest knowledge/wisdom (Akal) of various sciences and discriminating intellect (Babaek Budhi), which has been emphasized in Nanakian Philosophy, for interpreting Gurbani and representing Sikhism in their real perspective. Let us all the Sikh scholars understand the following basics of Nanakian Philosophy and apply them diligently to formulate integrated and comprehensive philosophy of Sikhism, which is needed by the humanity of the world of the Science Age.

    Religion and Science

    Before discussing the basics of the Nanakian Philosophy I would like to clear the stand of Nanakian philosophy on religion and science. Many theologians while discussion religion and science emphasize that science is a fact, which can be tested and duplicated, while religion is a faith, which cannot be put to such tests.
    They are absolutely right since faith means unquestioning belief that does not
    require proof or evidence. However, a critical evaluation of Nanakian Philosophy will show that Science and Nanakian Philosophy are closely intertwined with each other. And Guru Nanak emphasizes to use wisdom and discriminating intellect (Babaek Budhi) to examine every philosophy/idea/thing before accepting and putting it into practice.

    BASICS OF NANAKIAN PHILOSOPHY
    I have picked up a few basics of Nanakian Philosophy, which leads us to conclude that Sikhism is not a mere mythical and ritualistic religion like others rather is a scientific, logical religion having universal acceptability throughout the world.

    1. Evaluation of Things/Philosophy
    pihlw vsqu is\wix kY qw kIcY vwpwru ] AGGS, M 1, P 1410 [1].
    "Gurbani teaches that one must evaluate the things / philosophy, if convinced,then purchase / adopt / follow it."
    But the Sikhs follow blindly what Sants, preachers, Kathakaars, and Kirtanias say in the Gurdwaras. The Sikh historians and scholars also take it granted as truth what is written in the unauthentic old literature, extraneous to the AGGS. They do not care to evaluate with their discriminating intellect to find out what is wrong and what is right by testing it with the Gurbani, science and logic - the touchstones of truth. The Sikh scholars, historians, and the Sikhs at large are afraid to deviate from that already accepted concepts and practices under the threat of Draconian sword of excommunication. Anybody, who dared to do so, was snubbed immediately by the Sikh authorities as well as by the opponent scholars and their organizations. The Sikh history is full of such cases.

    2. Knowledge and Wisdom
    Akal (Knowledge / Wisdom)
    Akil eyh n AwKIAY Akil gvweIAY bwid ]
    AklI swihbu syvIAY AklI pweIAY mwnu ]
    AklI piV kY buJIAY AklI kIcY dwnu ]
    nwnku AwKY rwhu eyhu hoir glW sYqwnu}

    AGGS, M 1, P 1245.
    “The knowledge, which is used to win over strife, is not called wisdom.
    Through wisdom one realizes the Almighty, through wisdom one attains the honor. With wisdom one discovers by reading, through wisdom one decides where to give the charity.” Nanak Says: “This is the real path, all others leads to devilish actions.”

    2. Babaek Budhi (Discriminating Intellect)

    There are many people, who may be called wise and intellect but very few are have the discriminating intellect to distinguish between good and bad, true and false, right and wrong, etc. Having Babaek Bhudhi and its use has been appreciated in the Nanakian Philosophy:
    i) bUJY bUJnhwru ibbyk ] AGGS, M 5, P 285.
    “Those who have discriminating intellect can understand things in their real
    perspective.”
    ii) so DnvMqw ijsu buiD ibbyk ] AGGS, M 5, P 1150.
    “The one, who has the discriminating intellect, is wealthy in knowledge (wise).”

    But most of the time it is preached by Sants, preachers, Kathakaars, and Kirtanias that one should continue to recite Gurbani without applying any discriminating intellect to understand the philosophy in it.

    3. Importance of Research
    Gurbani explains that those who research progress:
    KojI aupjY bwdI ibnsY hau bil bil gur krqwrw ] AGGS, M 1, P 1255.
    "The researcher progresses while the other (discursive and aimless) perishes,
    (Nanak)* sacrifices himself on the Guru, the Creator."
    *Nanak sacrifices himself on his Guru, the Creator, who has advised him and his Sikhs to do research to find the truth before accepting it. Research on Sikhism and Gurbani has been ignored since a long and is being discouraged by many scholars even today. Similarly application of science and logic has been discouraged by many scholars as well as by most devout Sikhs.
    Once I was explaining Gurbani with the application of science and logic in a
    Gurdwara. I usually declare to the Sangat to ask questions, if there is any doubt, after the Diwan since no question is allowed during the Diwan time in many Gurdwaras.
    At the end of the Diwan a very experienced and devout Sikh approached me and advised me to leave my knowledge of science at home when I come to Gurdwara since there is no place of science in Gurbani and Sikhism. At that time I was holding a bunch of keys in my hand and I let it drop. I asked the devout Sikh; do you know why the keys fell down on the floor? He replied immediately without any hesitation and thinking that the bunch of keys fell down because of the gravitational pull. I very politely requested him that if you have not left your knowledge of science at home how can you advise others to leave it at home while coming to Gurdwara. I further requested to him please do not give such irrational advice to anybody in the future, because science is going to stay as a part and parcel of spiritual and temporal affairs of humans. Whenever, my work on scientific and logical representation of Gurbani and Sikhism is criticized by scholars and theologians then the following words of Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha [10-Preface], said about 60 years ago, resound in my ears clear and loudly again and again:

    “I am sorry to say that there are very few research scholars in our nation but
    there is a large number of scholars who are the enemies of the research scholars and even they will label such research scholars as atheists to defame them.”

    It is a pity that this message of Bhai Kahn Singh has been ignored by most of the Sikh scholars, Sikh theologians, and Sikh authorities till today.

    Since Science and Nanakian Philosophy are closely intertwined with each other, therefore, to understand the Nanakian Philosophy in its real perspective it is important to have the latest scientific information and a discriminating intellect (Babaek Bhudi). Moreover, it is also important to understand the methodology used by Guru Nanak to explain his philosophy. In most of the cases Guru Nanak quotes simple science and logic and sometime cites ancient mythological works and rituals, commonly accepted by the masses and thereafter he explains his philosophy. He also uses many allegoric expressions to make it easy for the readers to understand his own philosophy. The scholars, who would interpret Nanakian Philosophy, have to be very diligent and need discriminating intellect to distinguish it from the ancient mythological works, and allegoric expressions, cited in Nanakian Philosophy.

    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. Nanakian Philosophy enshrined in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib is scientific and logical and it should be studied by applying the latest information about
    science, use of logic and Babaek Budhi (discriminating intellect) before using it to construct philosophy of Sikhism.

    2. There is a need to sift the truth from the old writings by testing the information given in them with Gurbani (Nanakian Philosophy), science, and logic – the touchstones of truth before using that to construct philosophy of Sikhism.

    3. The Sikh scholars experts in various sciences, languages, law, history,
    philosophy, theology, etc. have to get together to represent integrated and
    comprehensive philosophy of Sikhism to the humanity of the Science Age.

    REFERENCES
    1. AGGS = Aad Guru Granth Sahib. 1983 (reprint). Publishers: Shrimoni
    Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. (M = Mahla, i.e., succession
    number of the Sikh Gurus to the House of Guru Nanak, P = Page of the
    AGGS).
    2. Chahal, D. S. (1992). Philosophy: Scientific interpretation of Gurbani. The
    Sikh Review, Calcutta. 41 (December): 23-35.
    3. Chahal, D. S. 2000. The Commencing Verse of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib.
    Understanding Sikhism Res. J. 2(1): 8-19 & 29.
    4. Chahal, D. S. (2000). Sikhism: Scientific and Logical Religion for the Third
    Millennium and Beyond. Understanding Sikhism Res. J. 2(2): 7-23 & 23.
    5. Chahal, D. S. 2002. A unique concept of God in Nanakian Philosophy.
    Understanding Sikhism Res. J. 4 (2): 5-16.
    6. Chahal, D. S. 2002. Nanakian Philosophy – The term defined. Understanding
    Sikhism Res. J. 4 (2): 17-22.
    7. Grewal, J. S. 1998. Contesting Interpretation of the Sikh Tradition. Manohar, New Delhi.
    8. Gupta, Anupam. 2002. OPED: Sikh Gurdwara Act and the legacy of nonviolence. The Tribune, Chandigarh. Monday October 21, p 11.
    9. Javasudarshana. 1972. Looking at the Vastness. Caravan. No. 477: 27-31
    (March 11).
    10. Kalsi, Nirmal Singh. 1996. Beej Mantar Darshan (Punjabi). Kalsi
    Technologies, #15, 7711 - 28th Street, Surrey, BC V3W 4E6 (p 165).
    11. King, Noel Q. 1989. In: Advanced Studies in Sikhism. P 1-11 & 13. Eds. Jasbir Singh Mann and Harbans Singh Saraon. Irvine. Sikh Community of North
    America.
    12. Oberoi, Harjot. 1994. The Construction of Religious Boundaries. Oxford
    University Press, Delhi.
    13. Pais, Abrham. 1982. "Subtle is the Lord…" The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
    14. Sidhu, Sarjeet Singh. 1999. Is there any place of ritualism and idolism in
    Sikhism? Understanding Sikhism Res. J. 1 (2): 37-41 & 17.
    15. Singh, Kahn (Bhai). 1938 (Reprint 1996). Gurmat Martand (Punjabi).
    Publishers: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar.
    16. Singh, Manjeet. 1973. Gurbani and Science - A Study. Gur Das Kapur & Sons (p) Ltd., Jallandhar (p 28-29).
     
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Re: “Importance of the Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Present Era

    twinkle ji

    Devinder Singh Chahal is one of my favorite authors. His articles surfaced to my great fortune early in my first encounters with Sikhi and Sikhism. Thanks for posting. I am hoping you are familiar with his web site.
     
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  4. Taranjeet singh

    Taranjeet singh India
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    Re: “Importance of the Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Present Era


    That is nice to know. I am fortunate to have posted something from your favorite.I do not know his web-site. Would definitely like to know.

    Regards!
    Taranjeet
     
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  5. spnadmin

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